News / Middle East

Slow Progress in IAEA Probe May Complicate Iran Nuclear Talks

FILE - The reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran
FILE - The reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran
Reuters
Signs that a U.N. watchdog investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Iran is making little progress could further complicate broader diplomacy on ending the decade-old nuclear dispute that resumes in Vienna on Tuesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated late on Monday, after a three-hour meeting with Iran, that more work was needed by the country in order to fully implement a series of nuclear transparency steps by a Thursday deadline.

The IAEA also made clear that no agreement had yet been reached with Iran on what issues to tackle in the next phase of a cooperation pact aimed at allaying fears that Tehran may be seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

The outcome is likely to disappoint Western diplomats, who want Iran to move much faster in addressing the IAEA's questions about alleged activities that could be relevant for any bid to build a nuclear missile. Iran denies any such work.

"Everybody is fairly frustrated at the lack of progress," said one envoy who closely follows the Iran nuclear file.

The meeting took place a day before Iran and six world powers were due to start a new round of negotiations, also in the Austrian capital, aimed at reaching a final settlement of the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions by late July.

Iran has offered to work with the IAEA in clarifying what the U.N. agency calls the possible military dimensions (PMD) of the country's nuclear program. But diplomats and experts say it would be difficult for Iran to admit to any past activity
contradicting its denials of allegations of a bomb agenda.

"Iran has real problems in addressing the PMD issues," said the Western diplomat, who is not from one of the six major powers negotiating with Iran - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia.

There was no immediate comment from Tehran.

Iran's talks with the IAEA and with the powers are closely linked as both focus on fears that Iran may be covertly seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its uranium enrichment program is a peaceful energy project only.

Western diplomats say Iran must start engaging with the IAEA's long-stalled investigation and that this is central to the success of the broader negotiations.
 
West and Iran far apart

Under the cooperation agreement signed with the IAEA in November, Iran was to take seven practical measures by May 15 in a phased process to shed more light on its atomic activities.

Diplomatic sources told Reuters last Friday that the IAEA was seeking further clarification from Iran about the most sensitive of those steps, concerning fast-acting detonators that can have both military and civilian applications.

How Iran responds to questions about its development and need of this type of equipment is seen as an important test of its willingness to cooperate fully with the IAEA investigation.

Iran says it has already implemented the seven steps - including access to two uranium sites - but the sources said the IAEA still wanted more information about so-called Explosive Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators.

They said the IAEA also wanted to agree with Iran new measures to be taken after May 15, hoping these will address other sensitive issues linked to its nuclear bomb inquiry.

However, after Monday's apparently inconclusive meeting, the two sides did not even say when they would meet again.

Iran wants an end to sanctions that are badly hurting its oil-reliant economy. After years of a vitriolic and confrontational standoff with the West, the election last year of pragmatist Hassan Rouhani as Iran's president created a new atmosphere more conducive to settling disputes via diplomacy.

But diplomats and experts say Iran and the West remain far apart on what a long-term deal to resolve the dispute and dispel fears of a new Middle East war would look like.
"It's typical for negotiations to experience bumps, blocks and breakdowns," said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank.

In the Iran-IAEA talks, "the Iranian negotiators have to be wary of appearing to be too cooperative, lest they be accused back home of giving in," Fitzpatrick said.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid